How to Cope with Academic Burnout at College

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What have I done!? Miguel Angel via Compfight


Many college students experience burnout at some point. The average college student has to balance classes, extracurricular activities, and maybe even a job or internship. Whether you plan to work after college or attend graduate school, competition is tight and the pressure is on to be the best. All of these expectations and responsibilities can overwhelm even the best students. So what can you do when the stress is too great? Read on for some tips for managing stress and coping with burnout at college.

Make a Study Schedule

One important characteristic of successful college students is the ability to effectively manage their time. A study schedule will make your life in college much easier. Dedicate time each day for studying, and put in your academic planner. It’s most helpful to study your notes immediately after each class, so daily studying can boost your recall of information. Finally,  designate a space specifically for studying. Your study space should be relatively quiet and allow room for all of your materials.

Drop an Activity

All of those extracurricular activities look great on a resume, but they won’t do much good if you can’t finish your degree. If you’re heavily involved in more than one activity outside of classes, consider dropping the less rewarding or more stressful ones.

Manage Your Course Load

Managing your course load can reduce stress and save time each semester. First, don’t take the most difficult courses in one semester. Balance more challenging classes with easier, fun courses. Also, don’t take the maximum number of hours unless you know it’s manageable for you. If necessary, you can shift some courses to summer or intersessions. Talk to your advisor about your scheduling options and double check to ensure you’re taking all the necessary courses for your major.

Have a Stress Outlet

Exercise is an ideal stress outlet because it burns off extra energy and can be relaxing.  It’s also more healthy than other outlets you might choose (video games, tv, etc.). Pick a type of exercise you’ll enjoy, whether it’s solo or with a group, and put it on your calender. Other stress outlets include music, art, photography, and writing. Just be sure you don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect, or it will become a source of stress.

Look for Support

Support can come from a variety of sources – study groups, advisors, professors, or counselors. If you’re generally stressed or anxious, visit your school’s student health center to set up an appointment with a counselor. A counselor can offer coping tips for when stress levels are high. For difficult classes, visit your professor or TA during office hours to ask questions and get extra help. Not only will you better understand concepts that give you trouble, you’ll also be demonstrating a willingness to learn and work for a good grade. Just don’t wait until the end of the semester. At that point, the professor will likely be overwhelmed with students rushing to get extra credit or asking for a better grade. A study group provides good academic support if everyone remains focused. Other students may be able to explain things in a way that you understand. Studying with other people also holds you accountable for staying on top of your classes.

If you’re experience stress, anxiety or burnout in college, you aren’t alone. For most students, it’s a big transition from high school to college. By following the tips above, you can reduce stress and learn how to successfully manage your busy college life.

Want more college success tips? Read How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students